Home of Wasabi Air Racing

Elliot Seguin and Jenn Whaley's Formula One class air race team based out of Mojave, California. Pylon racing at the National Championship Air Races in Reno Nevada. Eight airplanes racing head to head around telephone poles in the desert. Mojave is the best place on the planet to build and modify a race plane, and Wasabi is lucky to have the best support in the business.

Monday, March 30, 2015

SETP Pics!!

#petesaiddontcuss #wedidntcuss #setp talk complete #aerochia #flighttest

A photo posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

#wasabiairracing #aerochia #setp #getyourheadright #gameface

A photo posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

Friday, March 13, 2015

Flybaby Position Error Update 3-9-15

Hey Guys,

So the position error that was observed on the 2-22-15 flight has become a bit of a science experiment, and like most science experiments it has begun a fascinating and hard spiral.

Chris Higbee drilled three more sets of holes in the probe to make it symmetric.  Interestingly the error is now symmetric as well, but there is still a beta based static error.

In-flight video and report below.

Go work on your airplane!!


A video posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flybaby Position Error

Hey Guys,

We did a really interesting program over the weekend, and it started as so many of the best things do, with a conversation over lunch.

Chris Higbee, Jenn and I were eating and talking about cool wooden airplanes with franklin engines, and it was observed that the Flybaby has an uncoventional static port.  The airplane is equipped with a typical twin boom pitot static probe.  One boom is total pressure with the hole in the center and the other is the static with the hole drilled in the side.  The weird thing is the probe's static holes are only on one side of the probe.  This led to the obvious question, does beta effect the airplanes natural position error.  The result is the video, shot in flight, that is so textbook it makes it hard to believe it didn't happen in a lab.

A video posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on
What you see in the video is the airplane is flying straight and level at 60 MIAS and 4,000 feet. The pilot applies left rudder displacing the ball to the right and showing the asymmetrical static probe to more of the ram pressure that the total pressure side of the probe is seeing.  The result is less delta P for the airspeed indicator to compare and therefore an artificially low airspeed by ten MPH.  You also can see the altitude indicate low by about 50 feet.  Then the pilot applies right rudder displacing the ball to the left, blocking the static probe which makes the airspeed read artificially high by ten MPH and the altimeter read artificially high by about 50 feet.

There are pictures of the probe and the test report below.

Go work on your airplane!!

Elliot and Jenn

Monday, February 16, 2015

SETP San Diego

Hey Guys,

There is still time to reserve your spot at the SETP West Coast Symposia (link).

Justin Gillen and I will be speaking about the test work we did fir Aerochia on N62MH, N357AW and N23LF during the build up to Reno 2014.

Justin and I are extremely flattered to have been chosen to speak to this prestigious group and look forward to the opportunity to learn more about testing badass aircraft.

Go work on your airplane!
Elliot and Jenn

Title:  Wastegate Development For A Sport Class Pylon Race Aircraft.

Abstract:  During 2014 Aero Chia performance aircraft changed the pneumatic wastegate provided with their Super Lancair Legacy line of race aircraft.  The TSIO-550-C is rated to 300 horsepower, we believe the engine was making over 650 horsepower when the propeller failed in a heat race at Reno 2014.  The build up to that power setting took place over three airframes, and failed 4 turbos.  These are some of the lessons learned from that testing.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Connor Madison's patch jacket

Check out the beginnings of Connor Madison's patch jacket.

We still have patches available, send a SASE to PO Box 131 Mojave CA 93502.

Rick Solo's a Tailwind

Hey Guys,

There is something right in the world when Rick flies a Tailwind, solo, for the first time.

What a fun summer this will be, and what a pretty airplane.

Congrats Rick, and Congrats Susan!

Elliot and Jenn

Sundays With Ralph Episode 5

Hey Guys,

Below is the report for FLT005 in the GT-400 "Snort".

It was a great flight.  Mojave Experimental Flyin is coming up and everybody is talking about records, so we used it as an excuse to get some performance data on Snort.  The result was 1.87 ft^2 effective flat plate area.

We also used this opportunity to further qualify an approach we use on Wasabi.  So by measuring manifold pressure (MAP) and the speed of the engine (RPM) we know the horsepower that a stock 520 would make in that configuration.  The issue is we don't know the efficiency of the propeller, and we don't know how strong the engine is.  The solution, as Andy would say is "more data!".

In order to get more data points to backup the assumption that Continental is accurate with their power estimates we use the dive method (see Hoot's report link).  If you know the weight of the airplane, you can derive the thrust given by a dive.  You already know how much power Continental thinks you should be making.  So by summing the two you know how much HP it took to go that fast.

Example:  The GT-400 weighed roughly 2400 pounds, so with a 500 FPM descent you are getting energy from gravity at a rate of 36 HP.  Add 36 HP to the 165 HP the engine was making and you get 201 HP.  Experimentally we found this correlated to a indicated airspeed of 250 MPH.  250 MPH correlates to a dynamic pressure of about 160 pounds per square foot.  206 HP at 250 MPH correlates to 302 lbs of thrust.  So 302 divided by 160 is 1.88 square feet of equivalent drag.

This is a little harder with Snort because the airplane is naturally aspirated and we try to keep the flights to about an hour.  Without automatic boost regulation the MAP (and therefore power) changes with altitude, and at -2000 feet per minute the altitude is changing pretty fast.  There are two options for this you can time your flying just right so that you pass through a particular altitude at the moment you are on condition.  Or you can take note of your altitude and MAP when you get stabilized and look up the HP for each pass individually.  We did the latter.

The plot below is the summary of the data.  The cluster is pretty tight, which almost makes me believe the data!!

Airplanes are cool,

3 things worth noting:
1.  We made no attempt to compensate for the loss of thrust from the propeller.  Typically assumed to be 90% efficient, this makes our findings somewhat conservative.

2.  The reason this is a more difficult test with Wasabi is the Continental reference material does not typically go to the engine RPM that we are running, which requires making assumptions.

3.  Below is a picture of the panel on Snort.  Note on the Manifold pressure gauge (top right) that ~1/8" = 1 INHG.  This resolution is a little coarser than I would like for this kind of testing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Plane Crazy After Action Report

Cathy Hansen posted her after action report on the January Mojave Plane Crazy.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bjorn Schipper's patch collection

Thank you Bjorn for the photo!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Instagram Photos from the weekend

A video posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

A photo posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

A video posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

Sundays with Ralph episode 4

Hey Guys,

Ralph and I had a great time on Sunday, we are trying out different arrivals to the airport to get ready to land at a different airport for the first time.  We are also still investigating the "poor centering" experienced on flight two.  We have not been able to replicate it yet.

Check out this great GT-400 detail below.  This is the spring loaded gap seal on the bottom of the wing.  Such a cool airplane!!

Airplanes are cool,

Spring loaded gap seal on the flap of the GT-400

Oil Flows / Klaus is awesome!

Hey Guys,

I assume everyone has seen it already, but just in case.  You need to check out Lynne Wainfan's article on Klaus Savier and the Determinator (December Experimenter).  Prepare to have your mind melted.

Anyway in the article Lynne describes Klaus' secret recipe for oil based flow visualization.

"...special dark colored oil is put on the airplane before flight.  After landing the oil tracks show where the air was, or was not.  Klaus has a finely tuned mixture for his oil: He starts with carbon black, the fine powder that is added to paint to make it black.  Carbon black is available on the Internet and in paint shops.  To this, he adds motor oil which is viscous - a handy trait that helps it not fall off the airplane.  Then Klaus reduces the mixture with diesel fuel or kerosene, but this combination has too much surface tension.  To counteract that problem he adds a lot of dish soap...One begins to understand exactly how obsessive engineers are about visuaizing airflow.  (I have found that the dishsoap has made the carbon black cleanup a breeze)."

I was really impressed by the combination of Lynne's engaged and researched writing and Klaus' willingness to share.  I ended up all pumped up about the topic, luckily with Justin Gillen doing all this Cassutt flying to get up to speed for PRS it seemed an opportunity we were missing.  So we ended up getting out the oil again and doing some visualization work.  Below are some pictures of what we found.  Yes we are intentionally leaving out the most interesting pictures :).

Elliot and Jenn

Tangotimemachine separation at cooling exhaust

Tangotimemachine separation at cooling exhaust, opposite side

Miss Demeanor cowling above inlet

Miss Demeanor belly cooling exhaust 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Plane Crazy Article

Hey Guys,

We had a great time speaking at Plane Crazy on Saturday, and we were flattered so many great people were interested in listening.

Below is an article Allison Gatlin ran in Tuesday's AV Press, thank you Cathy Hansen for scanning it for us.  Thank you Allison for the support.


Page 2 top
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Red and Marilyn Hamilton in Mojave

Hey Guys,

Red and Marilyn were at MHV recently to help a friend move an airplane.

Always worth taking another look at that Tailwind, oh man!!

Airplanes are cool,
Elliot and Jenn

Sundays with Ralph Episode 2+3

Hey Guys,

Below are the test reports from flight 2 and 3 with the legendary Ralph Wise in the GT-400.  There are good days and there are really good days.

The GT is a complicated and eccentric one off aircraft that has until very recently only ever been operated by one man, Ralph.  The result has been a fascinating study of Ralph, of Navy procedures, of the airplane, and of myself.

I hope these reports are interesting, as the flying certainly was.

Airplanes are cool,

A video posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Patch offering

Hey Guys, 

Wasabi had a great year of testing, racing, and record setting and we want to share. Send us an envelope and we will send you a patch. If you insist the patches are valued at $5, any donations will be spent on avgas testing airplanes!! While supplies last. If you want a specific patch write which one you are interested in on the envelope, and we will do our best.

PO Box 131
Mojave CA


Thank you,

Dragon:  This is the mission patch for N357AW, the most recent Aerochia Super Legacy.  Wasabi was tasked with getting the airplane airworthy and doing the phase one test program.  The names on the top of the patch are the four core members of the team, Andy Chiavetta, Justin Gillen, Elliot Seguin, and Jon Hadlich.  The center of the patch is a dragon.  The dragon was a south pacific style kite that was donated to ward off the gremlins that seemed to be haunting the program.  The patch was designed by Michael Lizama (@BTMichael).

Race 44: This is the mission patch for Lynn Farnworth's race 44 build up and participation at Reno 2014.  The patch is Mowgli (Andy) juggling so many difficult problems.  This program was aggressive before the gremlins started to plague the airplane.  The result was a couple turbo failures (the snails) and Lynn's impressive dead stick during a heat race at Reno.  The names in the center of the patch are the core members of that team Andy Chiavetta, Elliot Seguin, and Justin Gillen. The patch was designed by Michael Lizama (@BTMichael).

Darth Vader:  This is the mission patch for Wasabi's 2014 season.  This was a very busy year for Wasabi, we cut the gear off the airplane, tested an exciting new Catto propeller, increased our gross weight by 20%, and flew non-stop to Oshkosh for the airplane's EAA debut.  The most important was we consistently went faster and finished better than we ever had.  The patch was designed by Michael Lizama (@BTMichael).

Sunrise: This is the mission patch for the Mojave to Oshkosh non-stop formation flight and associated testing and formation practice.  The patch shows a formation of exotic aircraft flying in formation towards the rising sun while other folks are still still catching a few last Zs.  The aircraft on the patch include, Dustin Riggs flying Dick Rutan's Ol' Blue, Doug Dodson flying his Glassair II, Zach Reeder flying the Rutan Catbird, Elliot Seguin flying Wasabi, Justin Gillen flying the Tangotimemachine, and Brandon Cangiano flying Polaire his Lancair Legacy.  
The patch was designed by Whitney Brown, http://whitneyjbrown.com/.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Carbon For Breakfast

These photo's were taken late at night in the build up to Reno 2014.  We had just had another forced landing due to a significant loss in power.  I had run to the house to get the data off the memory card, leaving Andy as nervous as he gets.  There was a long list of things that could have caused the failure and some were a lot harder and more expensive than others.  We needed an answer.

I got back to the hangar to find a very different guy, a very happy Andy.  After pulling all the top cowl it was very quickly very obvious what had caused the problem, and in many ways it was the best answer we could have gotten.  The one thing that makes Andy happier than knowing what the problem is, is knowing he can fix it with carbon.

On an unrelated note:  If Andy says he can get in 4 cure cycles while you are at work, and have the plane ready to fly before sundown, don't bet him he can't, especially in front of your girl.

Airplanes are cool,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Wasabi Speaks January 17th!

Wasabi to be on display at the January Plane Crazy.

Be there or be square!!

New Cassutt Driver!!

The worlds newest #cassutt driver. Congrats #dudeman !!!

A photo posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

@jglyles first landing in miss d. #airrace #if1 #mojavemadmonksquadron #airplanesarecool

A video posted by edseguin (@edseguin) on

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jet Record Setting At The Mojave Flyin

There have been some questions about setting records at the Mojave Flyin. In particular questions about the records for turbo jets in the C-1d (3,750-6,615lbs) and C-1e (3,750-13,225 lbs) categories. It ends up being an interesting group because the weights are high enough to exclude the BD-5, BD-10 type stuff but low enough to exclude probably even Korean era jets. So basically anybody who is running in the Jet class would be going after these records, which would be cool. And with 3km runs in the 500 mph range, it would be freaking cool to watch!!

I have added the summary to the bottom of the record summary page on the Mojave Flyin site.


Interesting side note. The C-1d iii category is dominated by Massimo Ralli, flying an MB-326 Impala in the late 60's. I couldn't find much info on Massimo, except the attached photo of him giving a cockpit tour to Hanna Reitsch, which is cool.

Massimo Ralli and Hannah Reitsch

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Super Legacy Test Report

Hey Guys,

Over the last year Jenn, Justin and I have been very fortunate to help Andy Chiavetta of Aerochia Aircraft Performance and Racing with the testing on some of the Super Legacies.  We recently published the report on one of these aircraft, N357AW, on which we did the phase one test program during the summer of 2014.  That report is available here (link), there is a brief and inaccurate summary of my knowledge of Andy's career below.

Airplanes are cool,

Andy Chiavetta has built more than 20 airplanes, 8 of which are the Super Legacies that he is most known for, he has also built several hundred skim boards, is part owner in a skim board company (Exile), and has appeared in several skim movies (Exile Bearded).  To me Andy is first a master of composite manufacturing, who's technical skill has consistently put him around some of the smartest people in the business.  The result is that Andy's depth of knowledge, especially with airplanes, extends far beyond the physical building of things with composites.

Andy and Darryl in Race 33, Photo Andy Chiavetta
Andy learned composites building sailboat masts in the LA area.  But the experience that makes me particularly jealous is the work he did with skim boards in the early 90's.  As an engineer in aerospace I spend a lot of time designing and building aircraft structures but little time structurally failing them.  If an engineer is lucky the part that is being designed will be taken to failure once before it is installed on the airplane.  By comparison, when Andy was designing and building skim boards with his friend Aaron Peluso they built and broke hundreds of boards.  The idea of laying up a board, and riding it to failure the next day, seems at once perfectly foreign, perfectly educational, and freaking awesome!  I believe this is a fundamental series of experiences for Andy, and has led to his supreme understanding for composites and how they fail.

Andy Skimming, Photo Matt Adams
With his composite experience and his background in ultralights it was probably only a matter of time before Andy started building composite airplanes especially with the boom in composite kitplanes that was happening in the 90's.  The result, Andy built several kitplanes with customers, which prepared him for the second experience that makes me so jealous of Andy, the moment he met Darryl Greenamyer.  Andy was at a place in his career where he was seeing at once a change in the market, he had been building Wheeler Express' and they were beginning to lose favor, and a plateau in his experience.  He had gotten pretty good at what he was doing and not one to let himself get bored he was looking for the next challenge.  Meanwhile the long awaited Sport Class of Reno Championship Pylon Racing had just gotten on it's feet and Darryl Greenamyer was interested in getting in on the action.  Darryl was asking around to find someone to help him assemble an airplane (Race 33), a perfect combination was born, and four consecutive championships were the result.

Darryl and Andy with Race 33, Photo Andy Chiavetta
The trick in racing is to find a way to sell the technology that you are proving on the race course, making it slightly more financially practical.  Andy was able to turn the modified version of the Lancair Legacy into its own new type of sport aircraft with it's own following, the Super Legacy became the work that kept Andy busy the rest of the year.  Through selling the parts to modify your stock Legacy or doing the actual work of modifying the airplane Andy supplemented the air racing habit that had firmly taken hold.  Eight of these Super Legacies have been built.

Andy and 3 of the Super Legacies, Photo Andy Chiavetta

Lastly Andy's enthusiasm and willingness to push through the problem to a solution with shear will has made him the guy to go to for so many different types of airplane problems.  As a result Andy has worked with and is well respected by the best in the business.  It is fantastic to see good things happen to good natured and hard working people and Andy is one of those.

Andy performs a hasty mid week repair to Strega, Reno 2013

Inspiration for it all

My brothers and sister and I on the Ol' Man's Swift in the early 90's.

Friday, December 26, 2014

GT-400 Flight Report

Hey Guys

Below is the report for my flight in the GT-400.  The flight focused on getting familiar with the airplanes systems, and the report reflects that.  We plan to do more quantitative performance and handling testing in the coming months.

Airplanes are cool,

Ralph Wise is a long time airplane designer and builder with nine airplanes to his credit.  During Vietnam he was a Marine Fighter Pilot flying A-4s and F-4s.  He started his first race plane project in 1971 when he was still active in the marines, building the modified Owl OR-65 (Race 22) in the living room of the house he was renting off base in Yuma.  He raced the airplane and eventually built another Owl, this one a OR-68, race 7, that he named Wise Owl.

Ralph's OR-65 Race 22
While competing in the CAFE races at Oshkosh in 1980 with the Wise Owl Ralph lost a propeller blade on his aluminum Sensenich propeller just outside of Fon Du Lac Wisconsin and ended up landing in a farmers driveway.  This prompted a development program by Ralph and George Owl to find an alternative to the troublesome aluminum propellers.  George designed and Ralph built and tested  wood core propellers that eventually took Ralph to a top qualifying speed in race 7.  When George died Ralph continued the work tweaking the design of the propeller and testing it on his racer.

Formula racers, Aloha in #1, Race 5 Cassutt in #2, Ralph in Wise Owl in #3, and the Wagner now Miss U (link)
Ralph's other projects included a Sea Hawker Amphibian, a Yak-11, and a personal favorite the RW-500 unlimited bid.  The RW-500 was a Owl sized Unlimited racer that Ralph planned to power with an automotive V-8, without a gearbox.  Because of Ralph's experience with carving propellers, it made sense to carve the propeller for the RW-500.  The fact that the Chevy needed five thousand RPM to make the required power is less of a leap when you consider Ralph's props were already turning four thousand on the IF1 course.  And the idea of a hand built prop turning 5k is so freaking awesome, I don't have words.  The airplane was also briefly configured with a 540 Lycoming.

Ralph and the RW-500 in 1986 by Dan at AAFO (link)
The RW-500 on display at the Milestones of Flight Museum, Photo David Lednicer (link)
Once Ralph saw that the Rare Bear set the world propeller speed record of 528 MPH in 1989, he started to second guess the program.  This re-baselining of the program ended up with a completely new airplane, the GT-400.  The GT is a two seat tandem touring aircraft with a composite fuselage and an aluminum wing, it is powered by a Continental 520.  Ralph designed and built the airplane over 12 years, culminating in a first flight in 2004.

The GT-400 at the Mojave Experimental Flyin (link)